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'Market's stayed strong': G.J.Gardner's Queenstown-Lakes franchisee Nick Tapper, left, and franchisor Grant Porteous

By PHILIP CHANDLER

The boss of New Zealand’s biggest home-building company believes red tape’s one of the main reasons for ever-escalating housing costs.

‘‘I don’t think anybody has all the solutions,’’ G.J.Gardner Homes chief executive/co-owner Grant Porteous says.

But he believes the time it takes developers to bring sections to market, due to delays caused by the Resource Management Act (RMA), is a major factor.

‘‘If you look at our housing costs in NZ compared to Australia, and Registered Master Builders has done a lot of good work on this, the red-tape costs in our builds are significant compared to Australia.

‘‘Is this government going to be successful in unwinding the RMA?

‘‘I’m not confident in that.’’

Porteous, who’s based north of Auckland, headed a two-day conference in Queenstown late last month of G.J. Gardner franchisees and their partners — about 55 people.

‘‘We specifically selected Queenstown due to the fact you’re going through some tough times, so we wanted to come down and invest in a marketplace that’s been very good for us.’’

Porteous says his company’s easily NZ’s biggest home-builder — ‘‘in number of homes built, about two-and-a-half times the size of the no.2 builder, who keeps changing, and then in revenue, over three times’’.

The company’s also been the  local market leader for some time, he adds.

Queenstown/Wanaka franchisee Nick Tapper says his company built just over 90 homes, including one show home, over the past 12 months.

About 35% were for first-home buyers.

Porteous — whose business has close to a billion-dollar turnover in residential real estate — says he and Tapper were ‘‘very concerned’’ during lockdown a year ago.

‘‘We’re really pleased the market has stayed strong, and we’re still doing very well.’’

He’s in no doubt low interest rates have played a role.

‘‘People aren’t wanting to sit their money in a bank, and we have people that haven’t been able to travel so they’ve got spare money.’’

Tapper’s also noticed more people building homes for holiday purposes.

Concerning building costs, Porteous says there’s a saying, ‘‘you’ll never build a house cheaper than you will today’’.

‘‘Yes, there’s a huge amount of cost escalations coming through.

“We’re fortunate as NZ’s largest home builder in the relationships we have with the biggest suppliers in NZ, both around getting supply and trying to preserve those prices for our customers.’’

Porteous says, as the market leader, ‘‘we do see a responsibility to lead our industry [to wards] sustainable building and more energy-efficient homes’’.

‘‘Are NZ customers yet ready to pay a lot extra, sometimes, for ‘green’?

“The honest answer is ‘no’.’’

Tapper acknowledges it’s hard for people right now to get onto the Queenstown property ladder.

‘‘The market is tough, the banks are tightening up.

‘‘Everybody that’s coming to us, they have fought really, really hard and saved hard to get into the position to work with us.’’

If more land was opened up, ‘‘that would relieve some of the pricing pressures as well’’.

scoop@scene.co.nz